Using Social Media to Boost your Brand
Left to our own devices, humans have the unique ability to make all kinds of public gaffes. Ever-present social media tools tend to make these moments explosive, going viral in no time. This can sometimes work in your favor, as with Chick-Fil-A who posted record sales on “Chick-Fil-A Appeciation Day,” but it can also work against you, as Heidi Wys is finding out.
Guard against “foot-in-mouth” tendencies and the resultant fall-out. Arm employees/representatives with a social media policy. And, when the situation arises (and hopefully it will), have a crisis management team in place to respond.
Work with counsel to understand what you can say and what is prohibited by any industry-regulating agencies. When meeting with counsel, consider the following questions:
- How do you want your people to interact with your customers?
- How will you handle a crisis?
- Who will be on your crisis management team?
- Since “No Comment” is a comment, what should you say?
Your employees are a face of your company, whether they are in your PR department or in the stockroom. When people meet them and learn where they work, they begin to get an idea of what your organization looks like on the inside. Hiring managers must choose employees who can do the job and who will “fit” within the company. While diversity is something we strive for when looking to hire someone with complementary skills to fit within a group, too much of a divergent nature (or thought process) can lead to a hiring mistake. Make sure your hiring managers understand your vision for your ideal employee and your nightmare employee. Find middle ground where possible. Don’t make hiring mistakes, but when you do correct them quickly.
As always, organic “I love where I work!” attitudes and posts are great for word-of-mouth PR. Sadly, this sentiment is not always the case. Beware: Negative attitudes can also turn into a PR nightmare. While your company may never land on one of those “Best Companies to Work for” lists, make sure your employees like working for you enough not to find your name on the alternative listing. Try to encourage a positive environment and boost morale (celebrate birthdays, host staff appreciation days, allow for casual dress-down days, etc.). But even with that happening, morale can still be low, especially when compensation adjustments doesn’t match up to cost of living increases (especially in today’s economy). Set clear limits on what kind information is okay to share. In your policy, be clear that negative postings (even on a very personal/private account) are damaging to employee and employer alike. Depending on the comments, these posts may come off as unprofessional. Worse, rotten attitudes (as with fruit and potatoes) are infectious, don’t let them spoil the bunch.
Lastly, encourage employees to create their own social media policies for their personal platform use. While Gary Vaynerchuk says he believes giving “them enough rope to hang themselves” (How to Fully Commit to Social Media,” Marketing Cloud, July 25, 2012) is one way of weeding out those with poor judgment; you don’t want to pay the price (i.e., sanctions, fines or lawsuits if your industry is heavily regulated or lasting loss of client base, if it’s not) for that bad judgment. Regulate employees before the PR crisis hits to mitigate eventual pitfalls.